I feel guilty every time I open a can of chickpeas. That’s because I know that starting with dried chickpeas is more economical and no doubt healthier, and it’s what my Sitto always did. She never, ever used canned. I never, ever used dried. That is, until recently, when I got the hang of preparing dried legumes in cooking school. The same method applies to any dried legume, so this is a handy thing to know for dried beans of every kind.

It’s not difficult—it just takes time. Start by sorting through the dried chickpeas for any bad ones in the crowd. Then place them in a deep bowl. The yellow and pink glass bowls in the kitchen cupboard jumped out at me when I went to soak my chickpeas…these bowls have been around as long as I have, at least. There was clearly another middle-sized bowl in the set, and I can’t help but wonder what happened to it because I don’t remember ever seeing it. I bet it was green. I’m violating the rules of good food photography by placing brown food in a yellow bowl, but it’s the largest bowl I have on hand here in Harbor Springs, so there you have it.

Cover the chickpeas by 4 or more of inches with cold salted water (3-4 tablespoons), and let them soak overnight or for 12 hours. Then pour off the soaking liquid. Don’t be tempted to use this liquid as your cooking liquid—fresh water is a must. Consider the soaking liquid “saturated,” and no good for cooking the legumes.

Place the chickpeas in a large pot and cover by several inches with cold water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, for 1.5 – 2 hours, or until soft (but not mushy). Offset the lid of the pot to let some of the steam out. Aromatics can be added, like a bouquet garni (parsley, thyme, bay leaf) or mire poix (celery, onion, carrot). I don’t add them for the hummus. Salting at this point will slow down the cooking process, so better left until the legume is used in whatever dish you are making.

That’s really all there is to it. Now you have lots of chickpeas (dried legumes measure out to double their amount once cooked) and you feel great about being thrifty and homemade. We’ve made Sitto proud! Freeze the chickpeas (aired out after they’re cooked) if you aren’t going to use them up right away.

Tomorrow, your favorite and mine: Hummus bi tahini!

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22 Responses to "Technique: How to prepare dried chickpeas"
  1. mimi says:

    I have a robin’s egg blue bowl that looks just like your pink one, so maybe that’s the missing color?

    • Maureen Abood says:

      Robin’s egg blue! You know, I first thought blue and even wrote it, then the longer I looked at the set the more I thought green. Sounds like the set has both blue and green bowls along with the yellow and pink….

  2. Kristen English says:

    My Mom has the same set of bowls. The middle size is green, and there is one smaller than the red one that is blue. I always liked their retro feel, so she picked up a set for me at a garage sale. 🙂

  3. Rachel Abood says:

    Wow Maureen, I hope my sister Sarah saved that shower cookie for me. Your writing and love of all things family and food warm my autumn heart. I loved the picture of Peg’s b-day cake, too precious. Please keep cooking, baking and sending pure joy from the north. Love, Rachel

  4. Roger Toomey says:

    Do you have a recipe with chickpeas, tomato, and ham? I can’t seem to locate one and that is one of the main ways we ate them.

  5. christine m says:

    is it ok to soak chick peas in stainless bowls? thanks

  6. Louise Giordano says:

    The chick peas are sitting in cold water as we speak. Thanks One thing I am not sure of in your recipe is if the lid should be a bit ajar while simmering or after when I can spices etc. An answer would be appreciated again THANKS

  7. Michael says:

    Thank you Maureen!!
    Looked at bunch of “simple” methods for preparing chick peas online and yours is by far the most sensible and straightforward.

    Perhaps you can help me in my long quest for a recipe?
    Years ago a friend who I’ve lost touch with used to make something I believe she called “Lubbin”. Forgive my vague description but she (if memory serves me right) took yogurt, olive oil and a cheese cloth to make this spreadable goodness. Does this sound familiar at all?

    My friend’s mother was Lebanese and made it all the time. She also introduced me to “Lubi” (hopefully I got that right as well) which is a wonderful stew of chicken, chickpeas, tomatoes, green beans, onions and mint served over steamed rice.

    Hope you can help and keep up the great writing! Thank you.

  8. Michael says:

    OMG!!!!!! I just searched your site and found it!!!!!!!!!!!!
    You’re the BEST!!!!!!!!!

    Next time I’ll scour your site first and ask later. lol

  9. Karina says:

    I have 2kg of chickpeas that will not cook properly, I have soaked them for 48 hrs and they are still hard and dry after cooking for 2 hrs

    Do you have any suggestions n how to make them more tender?

    I am attempting 72hrs soak now.

    • Maureen Abood says:

      Hi Karina–thanks for your question. Keep cooking them beyond the two hours as long as it takes;it may take several more hours and that’s fine. A longer soak won’t necessarily lessen that cooking time by very much. Let me know how it goes–

  10. Roger says:

    Are you aware of auqafaba??
    It’s the water that the chickpeas have been soaked adn cooked in, the beans release protein which is suspended in the water: this suspension can be used in replace of egg in recipes that call for the protein element of eggs i.e: cakes, pancakes, yorkshire puddings.

  11. Fabienne says:

    Can I use a pressure cooker to cook the chickpeas? Thanks

    • Maureen Abood says:

      Yes, many are pressure-cooking their chickpeas. I’ll keep you posted when I share my own pressure-cooked chickpea recipe.

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